Nearly 10 years had passed since Brad Penny pitched for the Marlins. His former catcher is now Miami’s manager.
When they got together again Saturday, it sure felt like old times.
Penny rejoined the Marlins for the first time in 10 years and pitched five solid innings to get a notable win Saturday night, 4-3 over the slumping Cincinnati Reds.
"It’s been a long time," Penny said. "I’m lucky to get another opportunity to pitch at this level."
And now, more good times for the 36-year-old pitcher, who helped the Marlins win the World Series in 2003. Called up earlier Saturday, Penny (1-0) put the Marlins in position for their second straight win over Cincinnati, which is 8-14 since the All-Star break.
Penny gave up Jay Bruce’s solo homer and an unearned run in five innings, fanning three while throwing 95 pitches. During breaks, he and manager Mike Redmond — who was his catcher back in the day — had some familiar-sounding chats about how he was doing.
"During the course of the game, we had a couple of conversations like we had when I was back catching him," Redmond said. "We laughed.
"He was the same guy out there, for sure. Just a little bigger in that jersey."
Penny enjoyed Redmond’s between-inning critiques.
"He used to yell at me a lot more when he was a catcher," Penny said. "He’s nicer as the manager."
Bryan Morris gave up two hits and a run in the eighth. Steve Cishek pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 32 chances.
Christian Yelich had two hits, scored a run, and drove in two with a groundout and a sacrifice fly off reliever Sam LeCure (1-4). Giancarlo Stanton also had a sacrifice fly, and Donovan Solano doubled home the final run.
Starter Alfredo Simon has epitomized the Reds’ struggles after the All-Star break. Since his first All-Star selection, he is 0-4 with a no-decision, going five innings or less four times. On Saturday, he allowed two runs and matched his season high with five walks in five innings.
It was a big night for Penny, who was 48-42 with the Marlins from 2000-04. His last start for them was July 28, 2004.
He moved on to play for the Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals and Tigers. He hadn’t played in the majors since 2012 when he signed a minor league deal with the Marlins in June.
And now he’s back to winning in the big leagues.
Bruce’s homer in the first inning ended Miami’s streak of 11 straight games without allowing one, the second-longest in franchise history. The Marlins went 12 games without allowing one last season.
Simon got Garrett Jones to take a called third strike in the third inning on a pitch that fluttered in at 64 mph. In his next at-bat, Simon threw a 57 mph pitch followed by a 95 mph fastball. Jones drew a walk.
AND SOOOO FAST
Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth. Eighteen of his 23 pitches came in at triple digits, with three of them hitting 103 mph. He extended his major league record for a reliever to 48 consecutive appearances with a strikeout.
Miami optioned left-hander Edgar Olmos to Triple-A New Orleans to open a roster spot for Penny.
Marlins: One of Penny’s pitches to Kristopher Negron was fouled in the dirt and hit plate umpire Paul Nauert on the upper left leg in the second inning. Nauert talked to a trainer for a few minutes before the game continued.
Reds: Brayan Pena had a pinch-hit single that extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. He left for a pinch-runner because his left hamstring has been tight. Manager Bryan Price plans to have Pena catch Sunday. The Reds called up catcher Tucker Barnhart as a precaution.
Marlins: Miami will try to sweep a three-game series in Cincinnati for the first time since Great American Ball Park opened in 2003. Left-hander Brad Hand (2-3) makes his first career start against the Reds. The Marlins then return home for eight games against St. Louis, Arizona and Texas.
Reds: Johnny Cueto tries to win his fourth straight start. The right-hander has given up only three runs in the last three games. He threw a complete game for a 9-2 win at Cleveland on Tuesday.